My name is Dr. Michael Duggan and I have been a counselor for Students with Disabilities here for nearly 20 years. The students, faculty, and many of the administrators in this room mean the WORLD to me. Truly, they are like a second family. I want to take advantage of this time and rather than rehash the points made previously I want to highlight the great things that have come out of this area that seems to be under the colleges microscope. When the quarantines of COVID were over, this was the first group of student service professionals meeting with students, not behind plastic glass, but masked in our enclosed offices. Although we were scared, we immediately stepped forward because our students needed us.
Some other highlights:
Part-time Counselor Danice McGrath in Honors, advising over 250+ annual honors scholarship recipients transferring not only to our top universities, but with a host of scholarships as well.
Part Time Counselor Cheryl Baunbach-Caplan does the same for our Engineering Pathways.
Part-time Counselor John Popik co-chairs our Safe Zone Committee for LGBTQ inclusiveness, where we’ve trained over 800 educators since the committee’s inception 15 years ago.
Athletic Couselors Sue Brodie and Erin Fabrizio are a second mother to hundreds of athletes, many coming from out of state and far away from their families, providing the wisdom and encouragement to move onto greater things.
First generation support groups, UndocuAlly Student Support Training, Autismerica, The Coach Program for Students with Intellectual disabilities. The list goes on and on.
There is INCREDIBLE talent here. There are dynamic, student-centered professionals who are dedicated to only one thing, changing students’ lives. Yet at the same time, morale in my area is abysmal. People are scared about their future jobs, and details have been vague and too unspecific. They deserve better. Even more saddening, they’re looking at other job opportunities and likely soon leaving. The loss of talent so deeply saddens me, not because it’s insurmountable, but I know ultimately students will suffer the price after such a loss of collective talent. Hell, I just did a reference call for someone today.
There is still hope. The talent is still here. Both in Counseling, and with the Administrators at this meeting. I believe in us all. TRULY the current way we’re trying to solve this problem isn’t working, but there is still time to change course. Let us truly come together, not with attorneys, or at conferences, or behind closed doors, but in collaboration with open minds and hearts. I believe we can find a solution that treats our employees as as well as we want our students to be treated. There is exceptional talent and wisdom both within our Administration and this amazing group of fellow counselors and I KNOW we can to this if we just work together. I believe in us all.